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Five vie for four seats on school board

October 24, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- Voters in the Greencastle-Antrim School District will see at least two new faces on the school board next year.

Four seats on the nine-member board are up for grabs, but only two incumbents, Michael Shindle and Dr. G. William Thorne are running for re-election. Board President Dan Fisher and Director Charles McClain did not file for the primary in May.

Shindle and Thorne will attempt to secure their positions on Nov. 3 against Don Richards, Joel Fridgen and Brian Hissong.

Fridgen and Thorne are the only candidates who cross-filed for the primary and will appear on the ballot with both nominations.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District is entering a unique time, said Thorne, 57. With a major renovation project on the horizon and the state budget only now coming through, Thorne said the board will be busy.

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Both Thorne and Shindle, 46, said they want to see through some of the projects the district began during their first term on the school board.

"The first term, you learn a lot," Thorne said. "The second term, you do a lot. I'd be glad to do that job."

"I'd like to see (the work) through to the end," Shindle said. "I was born here, I attended this school. This is my community. I want to do what is best for it."

Having deep community roots is at the heart of what Shindle said he brings to the board. A lifelong resident, he said he is in tune with the people, the needs and the desires of Greencastle.

A local dentist, Thorne said his experience owning and operating a business lends well to tackling the issues of renovation, budgetary considerations and taxes now before the school board.

Business experience also could help Fridgen, 54, as he seeks one of the open seats, he said.

While, if elected, this would be Fridgen's first office held in Franklin County, he said his background includes years as a city councilman in Minnesota and work as CEO of more than one company.

Fridgen said he is looking to get back in public service as a way to repay the community he calls home.

"I am doing this, in part, to give back to the community," he said. "I think we have an awesome school system, and I would certainly be humbled and honored to continue that tradition."

The sole Democrat on the ballot, Richards, 58, said he is running because he has the time now that he is one of Franklin County's many unemployed workers.

"I was one of the people who lost their job recently and I now have the time, which I can offer (to the community)," he said.

Despite the "D" next to his name, Richards said he does not feel partisan politics should come into play when managing a school district and encouraged voters to look past the party and vote based on the candidate and the issues.

Sharing a desire to keep taxes low by tracking expenses, Richards said fiscal responsibility is key for the school district as it navigates the choppy economy.

Hissong, 38, rounds out the candidate pool as a write-in candidate whose name was added to the ballot in June.

Hissong tied with Kamie Swisher for write-in votes after the May primary. The Franklin County Commissioners cast lots to break the tie.

Hissong was unavailable to comment due to a family emergency, but previously said he wants to serve the community much as the school has served him and his family.

"The school district has been a blessing to my kids," he said. "I was taught to give back where you can, and the school has blessed my family, so this is one way for me to give back to them for all they have done."

Voters in all five Antrim Township precincts and both Borough of Greencastle precincts will be able to vote for school director, Franklin County Chief Deputy Clerk Jean Byers said.

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